30.03.2012 Sugar N’ Spice
Less than a week from the night and I am managing to put the time in to write this reflection on our last storytelling evening.
Happy Birthday to us! Happy Birthday to us!…
Blether was celebrating its 3rd birthday on this night of Sugar N’ Spice stories at Drouthy Neebors pub in Dundee.
We arrived and descended to the basement of Drouthys hoping to have a roaring fire but there wasnae and there wasnae any wood to light a fire but probably for the best because as folk began to trickle in we saw we had quite a crowd and there wouldn’t have been much room for the fire, we had surely filled the space. If it keeps up this way we will soon need the Caird hall for our storytelling evenings!
The atmosphere was festive and many had brought cake of all sorts of shapes and flavours, lots of sugar n’ spice! To add to the celebration we also had 2 of our storytellers recently become accepted on to the Scottish Storytelling Centre registry process, so there were much congratulations for Sylvia and Sheila. There was a definite warmth in the air to further enhance the delectable fragrances.
The blether hat was passed around while there was much indulging in blethering. Many familiar faces were in the room, some who we haven’t seen in a while. The first one out of the hat, the first to be put on the spot and in the spotlight, was Zac who gave us a song by Emily Portman based on the story the Juniper Tree, a Brothers Grimm tale, one of their grimmest. A very catchy tune called Stick Stock, I have been listening to it since on her myspace and she has a few very good tunes based on stories. Zac did a fine version to get the night rolling.
Jeroen was the next name out of the hat and he gave us a tale called ‘The Frog Princess.’ Expounding the dangers of wanting a hat made from frogskins as this vain princess ended up with the head of a frog in punishment for her desire for such a hat. Fortunately she was able to find employment as a storyteller (a fine occupation if I do say so, more for love than money of course!) with a blind prince. The prince eventually had his eyesight restored and thankfully the princess got her head back at the same time, I will let you guess the ending…
The Big Rock Candy Mountain was the very appropriate tune chosen by Paul for this evening, along with some fascinating anecdotes about the song, including the story that it was sung by hobos to entice young folk to join them on their travels. ‘At the big rock candy mountain, where the jails are made of tin, and you can bust right out of them, as soon as they put you in…’
We had Jack out looking for hare’s eggs in the tale from Claire, his brother had disappeared while on the same errand many years before, but beware Jack of the 7-headed demon. He did of course have to do battle with the demon, luckily he had been given an enchanted sword along the way and slew the beast, only to find his long lost brother.
I was next up and I told of the village full of mean people, with a mean baker and his mean daughter that were visited by a faery woman in disguise. She brought a curse on to the people that they could not eat anything from the baker’s shop without coming to injury unless they had done a good turn that day. None wished to go without their pastries so soon the village was transformed. Then I had to tell of the study done into the dangers of biscuits, apparently the conspiring custard cream is the most dangerous of the lot!
We were out with a little boy named John looking for the secret of Easter in a story by Robbie. As he searched he was given a clue in the riddle, “The secret you seek is in the house you keep, Where its golden light shines day and night.” Search as he might he could not find the answer until he went home and his Mum told him it was on his plate, can you guess what it could be?
We came to the break and with a rendition of happy birthday for Blether TayGither and a chocolate cake made by Senga with 3 candles we were able to sample some of the amazing cakes that had been brought along. I don’t think I even got the chance to try them all, but Paul’s date and pecan was delicious and wholesome while Rachel’s sweet potato cake was simply divine (and that is not a word I use very often to describe food but there is no other word that comes to mind), I must get the recipe for that one.
After the treats and when we managed to calm the blethering and round up the circle we had Sheila start us off with a tale from India about a monkey looking for trouble. Of course he was mistakenly believing that trouble was the name for sweets! What you seek you will find and this monkey was given a bag of what he thought to be sweets but when he opened it there was real trouble: hungry dogs! This apparently explains why the monkeys in that part of India like to bother people and cause trouble…
David gave us an account of a typical day at the lambing, in which he finds himself engrossed these days as he is helping a neighbour with his 300 sheep. A tiring day full of trials and tribulations it seems to be to bring into the world this ‘woolly food’ (as someone called it, hmmm… I’m a veggie by the way). It seems the wee ruminants have their fair share of difficulties, including the inclement Scottish weather to deal with.
A food experiment gone ‘interesting’ was the order of the day in a personal anecdote from Rachel about a tart that wanted to be something else, or more like everything else, all course into one. Its strange scent filled her home until it was finally removed from the oven and tentatively tasted, the prognosis was ‘confusing’!
As a fitting accompaniment to the song from Zac at the beginning if the night, Senga told us the story of ‘Applie and Orangie’, the Scottish version of the Juniper tree told fittingly in Scots. Senga had heard it from Stanley Robertson in Doric and later told by Sheila Stewart. The cruel stepmother did away with her husband’s daughter by chopping off her head and making her into soup. A bonny white doo doo (dove) was seen soon afterward and it was obviously the young girl. The doo sang to people in the toon and was given gifts, a watch, a doll and an axe. She brought them back to the cottage wherein dwelt her family and called down the chimney that she had something for all of them, the father put in his hands to catch the watch, the other daughter put in her arms to catch the doll, and the stepmother put in her head to get the axe!
The last name was to come out of the hat and there was to be a prize for it: John & Anne had brought a cake, triple layer chocolate, and it proved to be one cake too many and so was not opened, John decided that it would go to the last name out the hat. It was: Sylvia, so often the last name from the hat and this time it pays off. After a couple of amusing personal tales about her Mum’s exploding boiled eggs and her desperation cake she told the Japanese story called ‘What are you most afraid of?’ A truly excellent story about an old woman who is bothered by a monster. She asks the monster, “What are you most afraid of?” the monster answers, “Brushwood, yes, very dense brushwood.” Then he asks her the same question, she answers, “Rice cakes, oh and I am especially afraid of gold coins.” The monster later returns laden with rice cakes and gold coins to terrify the old woman only to find the cottage surrounded by dense brushwood. No matter, he hops on to the roof and terrorizes her by throwing the goods down the chimney. Thinking he has scared her to death he leaves, and she is a little bit richer…
Here we ended our night, another successful one at Drouthys. Hanging about the blethers continued for a while longer with a few more sneaky nibbles of cake and a tidy up saw us out and on the road home.
Until next month…